Answer: Forever.

Well, not exactly. But security clearance processing times are a major pain point for industry and pretty much anyone going through the process of a new investigation or reinvestigation.

There are several reasons for the delays:

  • A backlog of pending investigations that has reached well over 500,000.
  • Budget shortfalls that have caused the Defense Security Service to hold back investigations until funding is available.
  • A shortage of background investigators.

The above chart outlines overall security clearance processing times reported by the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Council. The breakdown specific to industry security clearance processing times is worse:

  • 545 days for a Top Secret (Tier 5) investigation
  • 288 days for a Secret (Tier 3) investigation

The most popular thread on the ClearanceJobsBlog Discusssions site asks, Are You Experiencing Security Clearance Processing Delays? The resounding answer is – yes. Visit the thread to see what other clearance applicants are experiencing.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer